Tag Archives: Sue Monk Kidd

NEW DISCOVERIES AND ACCEPTANCE

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The Mermaid Chair
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Publisher: Penquin Books
Genre: Novel
Paperback Edition: 332 Pages, with Reading Group Guide

Jessie Sullivan, the woman at the center of this story, comes to an important conclusion in the midst of her life’s journey, one with unexpected twists and turns. “I had come to the irreducible thing, just as I had with my father, and there was nothing to do but accept, to learn to accept, to lie down every night and accept. Jessie goes to an island off the coast of South Carolina, the place she grew up, to assist her estranged mother. In doing so she discovers her own estrangement from life. Living with her through her discoveries and reconnections, a reader may discover his or her own new truths and connections.

Sue Monk Kidd, whose first novel The Secret Life of Bees created quite a stir, has continued to woo readers. This past year many of us were happily reading her latest, The Invention of Wings, a book with heart and history, loosely based on the Grimke sisters, early abolitionists from South Carolina. She published The Mermaid’s Chair in 2005, but this spring when visiting the Book Loft in Fernandina Beach a staff member offered it in response to my query about what fiction on the paperback table had she read and considered very good. Turns out it is quite a contrast to The Invention of Wings. Reading those two in a span of only a few weeks showed me the versatility of this author.

One might be classified as realistic fiction, and one as historical fiction. The Mermaid’s Chair is quite imaginative, yet grounded in the beautiful surroundings of a coastal island in the southeast. Monk is masterful at creating that environment. The magical environment seems right for a magical story. Though it may be realistic fiction or literary fiction, the story contains highly unusual elements.

This story has much to say about mid-life, marriage, family and personal identify. Monk does not shy away from the dark side of life, or the divine. The story lead me to wonder just what hearts are for? How do we handle our passions for people and for life’s endeavors? Sometimes it is hard to bring our lives into focus.

I leave you to read the book, and puzzle out the meaning of the mermaid chair as a central image in the novel. It’s all part of the magical environment that brings both wildness and sanctuary to this story.

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SEVEN NEW BOOKS YOU MAY NOT WANT TO MISS

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How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson (Jan. 2014)
This author is one of my favorite poets. I loved her biography in poems of George Washington Carver. She has been a National Book Award Finalist, recipient of the Robert Frost Medal and a Newbery Honor winner. Here her poems tell readers about her development as a young woman and as an artist. I’ve added this book to my library and can’t wait to read more of her powerful poems.

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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Jan. 2014)
This novel delivers a fascinating story of brave women who meet life’s challenges at a difficult time in our country’s history. The story is set in the South before the Civil War. There are two central characters and two narrators.

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My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. (Jan. 2014)
According to those who have written about it, this is a book about a book. The author celebrates George Eliot and makes you want to read Middlemarch. It might be described as part memoir and part biography, a bibliomemoir. It was reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Book Review by Joyce Carol Oates and sounds to me like a must-read.

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Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. (Jan. 2014)
This novel may well have you thinking about change and second chances. This writer has many fans. She is a prize-winning writer.

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The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart (Jan. 2014).
The author writes a tale set in the Shaker Community in 1840’s New England. A fifteen-year-old girl sets fire to a family farm. She finds shelter with some Massachusetts Shakers. Early reviews and summaries suggest you will find mystery and inventiveness in this beautifully written story.

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Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser. (Jan. 2014)
This book has been described as conversational and insightful. I always think I love to read about reading. Can’t wait to take a closer look at this book.

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Your Life Is Calling by Jane Pauley (Jan. 2014)
This favorite former news anchor and television personality writes about change. And especially, if you are a fan, you’ll find stories of her life interesting. I love how she is always up for what’s next even when she doesn’t know what that is to be.

I do not read all the books I dream of reading. Still, the dreaming is part of the fun. Which of these would you pick up first? Which one have you already read? Do let us know what you think.